An Informal Collection of Correspondence Transpiring from the Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust compound, located in the city of Ahmednagar, 15km north of Meher Baba's Samadhi in Maharashtra, India

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Relativism and Truth

<>Here's a story involving the philosophical dispute between Relativism and Truth. Rustom wrote about living with Eruch Jessawala at Meherazad:

Baba referred to Eruch Jessawala as His ‘Mummy,’ for he looked after Baba’s personal needs. Baba also referred to him as His friend, and said that Eruch was His Peter when He was Christ.

When I was staying at Meherazad, one of the ways I used to pass the extra time I had with Eruch was to argue with him about his ideas on harmony and other things over which I disagreed with him. Although I agreed that harmony was a nice idea, I felt that the way to achieve it was by correcting all of those who were misbehaving. I felt that when it came to Baba’s work, it was especially important not to compromise over what one felt was right.

Eruch’s pleas for harmony were beyond my capacity for understanding. I even told myself that it would be cowardice to give in to something other than what you believed in for the sake of harmony.

I expressed this to Eruch. One day I said, “Eruch, I believe in harmony. I also believe that as Baba lovers we should make an effort to be loving to others, even when someone has been rude to us. I agree that we should do our best to win over or change a person who is rude through our loving behavior. But, what if after we have made all our best efforts, the person continues to be rude, continues to hurt everyone by doing wrongful things, and refuses to change, no matter how much love you shower on him? Shouldn’t such a person be stopped, in whatever way he can be stopped?”

Eruch shook his head, “That would be your weakness if you resorted to such means.”

“Then what should one do?” I asked.

“Give in,” Eruch replied without hesitation. “For the sake of harmony let him have his way. Harmony is more important than anything. It should be maintained at all costs.”

“But Eruch,” I protested, “should we take a stand on the truth? If someone is doing wrong, isn’t it our moral duty to stop him?”

“If you take such a stand,” Eruch replied, “it will be a stand on falseness and not truth. From the point of view of Meher Baba, there is no such thing as good or bad. Both are equally binding. Both fall in the domain of falseness--call them relative degrees of falseness.”

This answer did not appease me. I said, “Eruch, I am not talking from the spiritual point of view or Meher Baba’s point of view. I am talking about the point of view of society, which operates on certain values, commonsense values of right and wrong.”

Eruch replied very calmly, “Not only is it all illusion, but society operates on values based on relative falseness. We know that what is true for one society or country may be considered wrong and illegal in another. The only clear perspective is the spiritual perspective of Meher Baba. If you see everything from that perspective, things will be clear. But the moment you try to separate the spiritual from your day to day activities, then conflict results.”

I couldn’t understand Eruch and asked him to explain it in simple terms.

“It’s all very simple,” he said. “Every soul in creation is on its journey to God. We are all at different places in that journey. Call them levels of relative truth or relative falseness. What level a particular soul is on depends on his sanskaras. To a “good” person, a thief may appear as “bad,” but a saint on the 5th or 6th plane, will see both of them, the good and the bad man, as souls bound in the falseness of illusion. A God-Realized soul, on the other hand, may see all three of them, including the saint, as still caught up in falseness, although a 5th or 6th plane saint is closer to the Truth.

“So, from the point of view of a God-Realized soul, every soul is bound in the falseness of illusion. Remember, there is no such thing as right or wrong. Baba gave us an example once. Baba pointed to the sky and said, ‘If the sky is the 7th plane of consciousness, or God-Realization, then the person on the 6th plane is someone standing on the Meherazad roof, and gross-conscious souls are on the ground. The distance from the ground to the roof, about 14 feet, is the distance from the gross plane to the 6th plane, whereas the distance from the roof top to the sky – which is infinite – is the distance from the 6th to the 7th plane.’ This is the comparison Baba used to give us an idea of this.”

I still could not accept all of this, though I liked the stories and thought I understood them. I still felt that as human beings we have a moral duty, if we are in the right and if someone else is in the wrong, not to give in, but to do our best to see that right prevails. I told Eruch this, and he sighed and said, “All right, I will tell you something that happened to me when I was with Baba.

“A person had come from Poona for Baba’s darshan. The man was known all over Poona to be a big scoundrel, and yet, when he came, Baba praised him in front of everyone. Baba was calling everyone’s attention to this man, saying how much love this man had and how this man truly loved Baba and that he was really close to Baba’s heart.

“I could barely control myself. As soon as the man left, I blurted out my mind to Baba. I told Baba, ‘this man is well known throughout Poona as a rogue and a scoundrel, and yet you, Baba, are praising him.’

“Baba said, ‘What do you know about him? You see his actions only in this life, but I can see all his previous lives and I tell you honestly, he is a very good soul and has done good work; he is close to me.’

“Ever since that day, I have stopped judging people based on their actions.”

Although I intellectually grasped what Eruch had said, my heart could not accept it at that time. But now that Eruch has gone from our midst, all of a sudden my heart has awakened to his words. “No such thing is right or wrong. Every soul in creation is at a different level trying to progress on its journey to God.” It brings to mind what Bal Natu had once said to me on this subject: “Harmony does not mean that we agree with one another, but that we respect each other’s different views.” Bal further explained, “different personalities, different approaches, and different thoughts and views should not come in the way of us loving one another.”

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I Long to Be the Dust of Your Feet

A ghazal is a poetic form which originated in Iran in the 10th Century A.D. It consists of usually a dozen couplets in the same metre and always opens with a rhyming couplet called the matla, which often includes the pen name of the poet. This is one of hundreds of ghazals written by Bhau Kalchuri. I especially like this one, and it was just read out at Meherabad before Bhauji gave a talk there yesterday.


<>Oh Meher, what is happening to me in Your friendship?
The world thinks that I am the worst kind of mindless fool.

It is a great help along the path that the world thinks I am crazy
and does not care for me.
I wanted to renounce the world, but through Your kindness <>
the world renounced me.

Oh Beloved, if You are with me, what worry have I?
What do I lack with You?
As soon as I turned into the dust of Your feet,
I felt the whole world come under my command.
The world just thinks I am mad, but it does not know
that my madness see You
In every particle of the creation in Your full glory.
Oh Meher, You kick me abusingly, remain indifferent to me,
and the world laughs,
But it does not understand the value of Your kicks
as I follow You more and more.
What a calamity is this love and my longing for it -
I wanted to be Your great favorite but now I long
to be the dust of Your feet.

Oh Beloved, if You don't want to see me
at least make my wounds deeper.
<>Since I have learned to enjoy the pain of my wounds
which gives me relief.

My helplessness has reached that stage where I laugh at it,
And the more I follow You, the more You are indifferent
toward me.
Oh Bhau, who will believe that the deeper the wounds
of my heart become
The more I remain bowed down at His feet.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai!

Rustom's Book

Tonight Rustom, Meher, and I were editing the first few chapters of Rustom's book, the working title of which is something like "Life with Meher Baba's Mandali." Here follow a few interesting pages from that book which is still a work in progress:

by Rustom Feramji


Meher Baba proclaimed Himself as the Avatar of the age and is regarded as such by millions of His followers, all over the world. According to Meher Baba, the Avatar takes birth from time to time to give the weary world His message of Love and Truth. In our history He has come as Zoroaster, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Christ and Mohammed.

During His life, (1894-1969) Avatar Meher Baba traveled extensively throughout India and all over the world for His spiritual work. In the early 20’s He established a base of operations near Arangaon village, some six miles north of Ahmednagar, in Maharashtra, India. This was called Meherabad and it is here that Meher Baba’s Tomb, or Samadhi, is located. It is also now the home of the Meher Pilgrim Centre, Dharamshala, and Hostels which accommodate hundreds of pilgrims who come to visit Meher Baba’s Samadhi each year.

It is here too, that staff quarters have been built to house those who have come to live and work under the auspices of the Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust. These workers are sometimes referred to as residents. The Trust Office is located in the city of Ahmednagar in what is known as the Trust Compound.

During Meher Baba’s life, those close ones who lived with Him and dedicated their lives to Him, were called His mandali. A few of the mandali, like Padri and Mansari, were living at Meherabad when Meher Baba dropped His body in 1969. Most, however, were living with Meher Baba at a home that He established in the 50’s, named Meherazad. This is located south of Ahmednagar, about 15 kilometers from the centre of town, next to the village of Pimpalgaon.

Meher Baba is commonly referred to by His followers simply as Baba. After 1969, drawn by some irresistible pull, pilgrims from all over the world, also referred to as Baba-lovers, began to flock to Meherabad and Meherazad to visit Baba’s tomb and to talk with His mandali. The attraction of these places, redolent with Baba’s presence, and the personal appeal of the mandali, was so strong that many people decided to live there and, over time, some were allowed to do so under the spiritual training program set up by the Meher Baba Trust. I had the good fortune to live and work as a resident in all three places, which include Meherabad, Meherazad, and the Trust office, at different time, thus giving me the opportunity to interact with most of Baba’s mandali. What follows is the story of my life as a resident.

Only Remembrance Matters

Bal Natu, a long-time disciple of Baba, lived at Meherazad. He had not lived with Baba the way the others at Meherazad had. Baba instructed him to look for a job and live in the world. So, he had been a school teacher at Kurduwadi for many years. However, Baba gave him the rare privilege of being able to come any time he wasn’t working to spend his holidays with Him, an offer Bal took advantage of at every opportunity for some 30 years.

I felt drawn to Bal because he had a chronic health problem which was similar to the one I suffered from and yet, unlike me, he was always cheerful and his fragile health never seemed to come in the way of his remembrance of Baba.

In fact, most pilgrims never even knew that he was not in good health. But, as someone who suffered from a chronic digestive disorder, I knew how difficult it is to do anything when you are in its grip. Every time you sit down for a meal, it becomes an agony. Stomach ache and diarrhea become part of your life. There is a constant sense of unease throughout the day and when things flare up, then you can experience a discomfort and an anxiety that can cloud your mind and make thinking about anything else almost impossible.

Bal’s health had been extremely fragile ever since his acute tuberculosis in the 1930s. On top of that, he had digestive problems for decades and now suffered from amoebas which only made the problems worse.

Knowing this, I asked Bal, “You are one of His close ones, so what do you have to say about your health? Why does Baba keep you in such a state?”

Bal said, “Anything that helps you to remember Him, no matter how painful or uncomfortable, is good for you. On the other hand, anything that comes in the way of your remembering Him, no matter how good or sublime it may be from the worldly point of view, is spiritually bad.”

Bal then added, “In one of my Conversations with Baba [Bal wrote three books of inner dialogue with the Beloved, all of which had ‘Conversations’ in the title] I was complaining about my bad health and Baba said, ‘Do you remember the time when your health was not so bad, when you were okay? Tell me, was your remembrance of Me as intense?’ I had to admit that in good health I remembered Him less as my dependence on Him was less. Baba then said, ‘So you are better off being in bad health.’”

Bal laughed and said, “He is constantly thinking about what’s good for you. So why worry, leave it all to Him.” He then added, “One can do yoga, meditation, and other things that make the mind feel blissful and sublime. However, more often than not, the ego gets strengthened and the person affirms, ‘See what a great yogi I am, or I am above the common people because I meditate.’ So something good, as in this case, can become spiritually harmful as it creates more binding.”

An Introduction

An American from Los Angeles, CA, I am presently living in Ahmednagar, M.S. India working for the chairman of the Avatar Meher Baba P.P.C. Trust. After one month of living of living the in Trust compound, constantly in the presence of Mr. Bhau Kalchuri, I am profoundly moved by his life of service and dedication to the cause of his Master, Avatar Meher Baba. My life will never be the same after experiencing what happens in this place.

I feel compelled to share with you the experience of living at the Trust compound so that, wherever you may be, you may feel touched by the powerful and inexplicable experience of life in the service of Avatar Meher Baba. Since much of Bhauji's work is done through correspondence with followers of Meher Baba all over the world, what I will share is excerpts from his letters and e-mails, as well as those from my own and others'.